The Chestnut Man


Thanksgiving used to be for movies. This is the weekend the serious ones launched. Of course there were family flicks, and stuff in between, like “Mrs. Doubtfire,” it’s just that I remember going to the movies over the Thanksgiving holiday but that tradition petered out a decade or so ago. I think the last movie I saw over the Thanksgiving holiday was “Slumdog Millionaire,” since then there hasn’t been anything I’ve wanted to see.

Now if we want to talk the movie business, it’s been permanently hobbled by Covid-19. Yes, there are tons of oldsters too scared to go to the theatre, but the truth is over the last eighteen months everybody has subscribed to multiple services and has become entranced by what streams on the flat screen. Furthermore, these shows are points of discussion. Seemingly everybody saw “Tiger King” and “Squid Game,” so you could discuss and fawn over and argue about them. You can’t do that with movies, because no one goes. Yes, the older boomers go to art films and the youngsters go to Marvel extravaganzas, but the art movies don’t get much mindshare, they sink into oblivion, and there’s not much to say about Marvel movies. I wish all these art films just launched on a streaming service, or maybe there could be a new service for all of them, because I read about them and forget about them unless I stumble upon them on a streaming service homepage months, or even years, later, and so many are great. Like “The Donut King,” now on Hulu. We were talking about visual entertainment last night and when it turned out everybody in attendance had not seen it Felice and I started testifying, there’s plenty to say about it. I used to testify about “House of Games,” before Mamet became further embedded in the public consciousness, but I don’t have enough movies to rave about anymore, “Donut King” is one of them.

But in truth I’m pretty burned out on movies. They’re too short, I love more detail, and that’s what you get in streaming series, the movies of today.

And it is well known that the Danes and the Israelis make the best television, and “The Chestnut Man” is Danish, it’s not the best series I’ve ever seen, but it’s far superior to the American dreck being hyped in today’s media. I laughed at the L.A. “Times” streaming recommendations, domestic and lowbrow, what the nitwits like, when the truth is exposed to something better they’d like that even more. Then again, I can’t understand why people hate subtitles. You can watch “The Chestnut Man” dubbed, but it’s not the same. But better to watch it dubbed than not at all.

So ultimately “The Chestnut Man” is a murder mystery. But in Danish and Israeli productions the plot, the story, the dialogue, is superior to the design. American directors are the reverse, they focus on the look first, and that’s a mistake. Not that the look of “The Chestnut Man” is not good, it just doesn’t dominate, there are no holds on vistas, cinematography to impress us. The series is shot in the late fall, and it’s dark and dreary at times and it matches the plot, enhances the tone.

You see there are murders. What is the motivation? Are they connected?

And the daughter of a government official is a victim, and her interactions with her sidekick are like Kasper’s with Birgitte in “Borgen.”

But there are so many issues. How does a couple handle the death of a child. Usually differently, usually the marriage doesn’t survive.

And how important is your work? What do you sacrifice to be good at it, great. Relationships? Children?

And hurt… How long does it last. Forever?

People keep dying. The police feel they’re not doing their job, never mind what outsiders think. And the story keeps unfolding and you’re not sure where it’s going and you’re guessing all along who you think is the perpetrator, and even when the person is revealed the series is not over, there’s more to play out.

So I highly recommend “The Chestnut Man.” We were watching an episode before I planned on hiking on Friday night and then I punted my hike, not only because I wanted to finish the series that night, but because I was enjoying the experience, it was so visceral, like being at a movie.

And I love that feeling.

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